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Nearly extinct red wolves welcome litter of pups at WNC Nature Center

By Samiar Nefzi

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    ASHEVILLE, North Carolina (WLOS) — For the first time in nearly a decade, the Western North Carolina Nature Center welcomed a litter of red wolf pups. Facility officials took to social media to announce the birth of nine puppies to red wolf Gloria.

Nearly extinct red wolves welcome litter of pups at WNC Nature Center

“Pure joy,” WNC Nature Center Animal Curator Erin Oldread said. “We’re so excited that they are doing well and she’s such a good mom.”

The litter of puppies arrived April 28.

“Look, you can see their little bodies,” a mother said while looking at the puppies.

Three-year-old Oak (dad) and 4-year-old Gloria (mom) parented the litter.

The WNC Nature Center has been part of the American Red Wolf Recovery Program since 1990. The center helped welcome 13 puppies from 1996-2014.

“This litter today brings the total to 22 puppies that have been born here at the nature center,” Oldread said.

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, red wolves were first added to the “threatened with extinction” list in 1967.

Oldread said the species faced a rapid decline in part because of habitat loss and their appearance, which is similar to a coyote.

Right now, there are fewer than 300 red wolves in captivity, with an estimated 15 to 17 in the wild.

‘We’re doing our best to help grow the population in the zoo community because any of these animals could get released into the wild,” Oldread said.

The puppies will continue to bond with their parents, with vet checkups every two weeks to monitor their growth and weight.

“They’re really dependent on mom. They can’t walk yet,” Oldread explained. “Some of their eyes are barely open.”

The center took to social media to announce the arrival of the littler, but Gloria decided to beat staff to the announcement earlier this week after she was spotted carrying them around.

“Mom decided she wanted to show the puppies around,” Oldread laughed. “With animals, you never know what’s going to happen, and we just go with their lead.”

The center plans to announce more information about the puppies, Oak and Gloria on Tuesday, May 16.

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